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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  September 19, 2011 6:30am-7:30am EDT

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you simply couldn't have a public auction. but the big issue is the fugitive slave law of 1850. under this law congress creates the first time a national bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that puts a federal commissioner in every county in the united states solely for the purpose of sending black people back to slavery if they're found to be
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runaway slaves. under the law people interfering with return of fugitive slave could get 1000-dollar fine and six months in jail. the alleged slave could not have a jury trial, the writ of habeas corpus could not be issued to protect the slaves and the slave was not allowed to testify on his own behalf. finally the federal commission would get $5 if he decided the person was not a slave, and $10 if he decided the person was a slave. northerners believe this was an attempt to buy justice. immediately after the law is passed, fillmore vigorously almost fanatically enforces it. i will be two examples. in 1851, a maryland man tries to seize a slave in pennsylvania and the slaves resist an american slaveowner is killed. at the time about 50 men are hanging around watching this,
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they refuse to come to the aid of the u.s. marshal. nor do the health of fugitive slaves. they just stand around and watch. 47 of them are indicted not for violating the fugitive slave law but for treason. the largest treason trial in history of the u.s. president fillmore pursley calls the attorney, u.s. district attorney from pennsylvania to come to washington and insist he seek treason indictments. and daniel webster, the great lawyer, helps him right up the indictments for treason. a week later on october 1 with the liberty party convention, and i slavery party convention going on in siege is just down the road from us, and the fair going on, lots of people in town, the u.s. marshal arrests a fugitive slave. they planned to arrest because they want to arrest him while the liberty party is there so that they could be in the face of the abolitionists.
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this is brilliant planning. 5000 people attacked in the jail that night. jerry is the future "slate," ends up in canada. the fillmore administration insist that as many people can be identified be indicted. they are indicted in syracuse but then for our ship to buffalo and albany for trials. because it is a federal case. it could be anywhere in the northern district of new york, and fillmore knows that the people in buffalo and albany are less sympathetic to abolitionists and people in suits use. when they are indicted and jailed the local politician puts up their bonds so they can be let out of jail. his name is senator william henry stewart. fillmore writes a letter to daniel webster in which he says, god knows i detest slavery. and when one looks at fillmore's administration one would only
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say, that is the almighty knew this, no one else did. [laughter] because he does everything he can to preserve and protect slavery. ultimately, his administration's flounders on these issues while he is constantly kowtowing to the south doing everything he can to support southerners, hoping that southerners will support him in 1852 election. he loses the nomination. tragically his wife dies shortly after the tragically his daughter dies shortly after that. he goes on a grand tour to europe, travels around europe, meets queen victoria who says he is the handsomest man she ever met. one wonders what kind of ophthalmologist they were in england. [laughter] but he was certainly a good looking man. he has an audience with the pope, which is reluctant to that because he's afraid he's going
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to have to kiss the pope's ring, and he still very late anti-catholic, but he goes and meets the pulpit within a month he accepts the nomination to be a presidential candidate of the know nothing party, and the know nothing party is the most powerful and successful anti-catholic party in america, one of the planks of his presidential platforms of the know nothing platform is that no catholic should ever hold public office in the united states. no immigrant can become a citizen. even if they've lived here for 21 consecutive years. it is deeply hostile to catholics, deeply hostile to immigrants. and he runs on the know nothing to do. he carries maryland but no other state. and then he comes back to buffalo and spends the next five years being a spectacularly good citizen for buffalo. he is still chancellor of the buffalo university. he helps organize the historical
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society but he helps other civic activities and is a very good citizen. in 1860, with his friend because he knew lincoln in congress, with his friend lincoln in congress and almost all of the old whigs have not come republicans, fillmore vote for the constitution union party. another party you've never heard of. but when lincoln goes to the white house he stops in buffalo and spends a day at the fillmore major because fillmore is now a wealthy man, having been one of the two things that one could do to become rich in america. the first of course is to choose rich parents, the second is to marry somebody who is rich. fillmore remarries a wealthy woman. he lives in a great mansion, and the lincoln stay with him on their way to washington. win the war breaks out he organizes a local home guard of old guys. is now 60 years old, 61 years old. he organizes a hold -- old guys
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to walk around and be patriotic for the first two years of the war he is a patriot. and then something happens. link and a clear city is going free the slaves. and fillmore turns on lincoln, and the attacks lincoln. he is asked to speak at a fundraiser for wounded soldiers, and in this fund-raising speech he says that we are making war on the desolating, the fairest portion of our nation, and that were loading the nation with enormous debt, rather than talk about emancipation, rather than talk about freedom, rather than talking about the traitors in the south who had made war on their own country, rather than talk to people like robert e. lee who took an oath at west point to defend the constitution and i turned on his country, he is saying we are making war on the fairest part of the country.
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he argued that the war was caused a partisan prejudice heavy jealousies, bullied and envy the and intriguing selfish ambition. and that it was caused by the deluded fanatics in the north, the abolitionists. the buffalo papers are shocked. they throw the treason were around. fortunately, for fillmore, the lincoln administration had a stronger sense of what treason is than he did when he prosecuted abolitionists were simply refusing to help enforce the fugitive slave law. but had he not been a former president, it is possible giving features like that would have led to his arrest in the civil war. after the war he simply shrinks into obscurity. so what do we make of millard fillmore? what do we make of his legacy? things i have not talked about, he pushes for transcontinental railroad, which, of course, lincoln implements.
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he advocates opening japan up to american trade and since commodore perry to japan but it takes fillmore so long to get to perry expedition off the ground or actually out into the ocean, that when kerry finally gets to japan, franklin pierce is president, not millard fillmore. he maintains an american presence in hawaii, preventing the french of annexing it because he thinks someday america might want a why. but, of course, it would be william mckinley who annexes the hawaiian island. and he pushes for a central american canal, but doesn't do anything about it, leaving that to teddy roosevelt. so he has vision, he has ideas, but there's no follow-through. but on the central issues of his age, his vision is myopic, and his legacy is worse. he opens the west to slavery, and destroys the missouri compromise line.
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this total appeasement to the south only encourages new demands for slave land, a solution to the issue of slavery in the territories leads to the kansas nebraska act, the evisceration of the missouri compromise in what is the upper midwest, and further conflict in the west. he fanatically, aggressively enforces the fugitive slave law which is obviously the most oppressive law in american history. he runs for president on a ticket that openly attacked foreigners, immigrants and catholics. in retirement, fillmore opposes emancipation, campaigns in 1864 against lincoln for a peace candidate who would've left millions of african-americans in bondage. in the end, sadly buffalo's first president, fortunately not its last, awful as first president was on the wrong side of the great moral and political issues of the age.
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immigration, religious toleration, equality, and most of all slavery. thank you. [applause] ♪ if anyone has any questions for mr. finkelman, please make your way to this microphone that we'll be using for c-span. it won't project your voice to the auditorium but it will for the filming. thank you for joining us. mr. finkelman, thank you. [applause] >> i had the pleasure of hearing you five years ago down in jamestown.
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and you are in front of 200 history teachers, and i thought of you a couple weeks ago when time came out with the cover that pretty much support do, your three about the civil war and how this whole generation was taught that the civil war, primary cause of states' rights, and you know what stage right was that? i just love that piece, and you were so compelling that i was wondering if you could replay it to a short order here. and i know it's not on the topic fillmore, but it certainly on the topic of the 115th anniversary of the civil war. >> well, thank you. of course, the thing in jamestown was for high school teachers in middle school teachers, which is the most important things we in the academy can do is bring what we know to the ground level, and doing it here is fabulous, doing it to teachers of course is a multiplier as my economist friends would call it. basically, i think almost every serious scholar understands that
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the central issue of america in mid century is slavery. the central issue is how you deal with slavery. and if you read the declaration of secession of the southern states, if you read the declaration of south carolina or mississippi or texas or florida, they all say we are leaving the united states because slavery is threatened by a man who does not support slavery, abraham lincoln. they all say this. perhaps it is most succinctly stated by the vice president of the confederacy, alexander stephens, a former congressman from georgia, who says in a speech right before the war begins, that in the north they believe in racial equality, and they are opposed to slavery. and in the south, now i'm paraphrasing for a second, we understand, and then uses this word, that the cornerstone of the confederacy, that the
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cornerstone of the confederacy is that the north is wrong about racial equality and we are right about slavery. slavery is the cornerstone of the confederacy. that is what the south secede for. now, the problem in understanding this is that when lincoln asked for volunteers to preserve the union, he doesn't say this is a crusade against slavery because he doesn't believe he has the constitutional or legal power to end slavery. and furthermore he is desperately hoping to keep the upper south states, virginia, north carolina, tennessee and arkansas in the union, as well as maryland, delaware, kentucky and missouri. and, of course, after the war begins, the most southern of those, virginia, tennessee, north carolina and arkansas will secede, but the other four will remain in union. very early in the war a group of ministers go to lincoln and they say you free the slaves, if you freed the slaves you would have
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gone on your side. and lincoln famously says, i would like to have god on my side, but i need a kentucky. [laughter] and so he waits until he has kentucky, and he knows he can probably win the war and then he moves to the emancipation. but the south secede to protect slavery. the south fights to protect slavery. to give you one would example, when lee and face pennsylvania in 1863, and here you have an army invading the north you would think that lee's goal would be to destroy the industry of southern pennsylvania, to destroy factories that are building guns and making gunpowder, he sends his troops out into the countryside to hunt runaway slaves and bring them back to virginia. this is what the confederate army is doing in 1863, because this is what the confederacy is about. americans don't want to do this.
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they don't want to think about it, especially those americans who have southern ancestry do not want to contemplate that their ancestors may have fought to preserve human bondage. unfortunately, for them, if they read the records of what their ancestors say, there's no doubt that that's what they were doing. and fillmore was on the wrong side of this. >> after the mexican war, you talked about the northern majority and house of representatives. how does that work into the three-fifths rule? >> sure. okay, at the constitutional convention, this is great. i teach it in law school of course but i teach constitutional also anytime you can ask me about something i contacted the constitution, i reach my gil morgan comfort level. maybe even above it. but in any event, at the constitution convention there is of course a debate over how do
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you allocate representation to congress. and everybody, most people want it by population but the sudden is a we have to have blacks represented. northerners of course he how can have slaves represented in congress when slaves are not citizens, they don't go? the compromise we reached is the previous compromise. you allocate representation in congress by counting all of the free people, and three kids of all other people. so what the south does is get a bonus in the house of representatives by counting the slaves for purposes of representation. for example, in 1860 there are 4 million slaves in the united states. if we just do simple math, if we said that each congressional district is 100,000 people, that would be 40, but then you would factor the two-thirds. so it would be gone if i knew
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math i wouldn't be a law professor, right? it would be a substantial number of members of the house of representatives. in fact, when you look at the vote of the fugitive slave law, which is a very close vote, without the three-fifths clause the fugitive slave law could not have passed. without those extra representatives from the south, created by counting slavery, the fugitive slave law would not have passed. the other thing to remember is that the electoral college is created, and the states get their electors by counting the number of representatives and adding to that the number of senators. so that the south gets a bonus in presidential elections. in 1800, they elect thomas jefferson who owns close to 200 slaves, and john adams who was never owned a slave. adams lose by six electoral votes. if you take the electoral votes away from jefferson and adams, caused by counting slaves,
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jefferson doesn't get elected president. america might have been a very different place if an opponent of slavery had been in office when we bought louisiana from the french instead of a man who spends most of his life supporting slavery and doing everything he can to protect slavery. these are very serious issues. >> i think you said there were 4 million slaves in 1860, something -- >> actually, the census figures 3.9 million. i was rounding up. >> what was the monetary, i hate to ask this, what was the monetary -- >> you shouldn't be embarrassed about asking what the monetary value is. slaves are valuable property. >> i know. >> how do you measure what a slave is worth? if you go down to the internet you say what's $1000 in 1860
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work today? you get four or five different answers, depending on how they figure it out. sometimes they do a market basket. how much would it cost to buy a loaf of bread, a pound of meat, et cetera come in 1860 and today. or sometimes they do it as a function of gross national product. when i teach this what i say is, we should think of slaves as cars. a slave is worth as much as a car. of course, raised its look at music what do you mean by that? and i say, you know, they are old, rundown dodge darts that are still driving around, and there are brand-new mercedes, and our old slaves of some value but not much, and there's some slaves that are worth thousands and thousands of dollars. slaves are enormously valuable. but my good friend jenny walsh was an economist in minnesota has just done a paper on this which she shows overwhelmingly
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that they would have been far cheaper to buy all the slaves at their highest market value, then it would've been to to fight the civil war. however, the southerners would not have sold because the other thing about slavery is slavery is not just about money. it's about racial equality and inequality. it's about racial superiority. it's what alexander stephens says what he says that the north is wrong in believing black people are equal to whites. and it's about the convenience of southerners. you know, how much is it worth to be able to ring a bell at 3:00 in the morning and bring you a fresh glass of water if it means you to go out to the pump and dump it? >> but if they were going to sell did that mean the price was too low? >> no, it's in the southerners were committed to a way of life, and that slavery is more than just about economics. i once was talking to an
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economist who assured me that no master would ever beat his sleigh because after all, why would a rational individual, you know, harm his own valuable property? and, of course, i didn't question whether maybe owning slaves is irrational, but what i did say it had ever seen and then try the cadillac into a tree? and he said only a drunk and i just looked at him and said so? he said okay, i'll buy that. have you ever seen somebody get so angry that they slammed the door so hard that they broke the window in the door? and he said yeah. so i said how much would be worth if you had one of those days to be able to come home and beat up somebody and get away with that? and this guy being an economist every excited and he said i have to think of a holy equation to factor in the pleasure you get out of it using people. that's understanding slavery.
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>> one man's terrorist is another man's patriot. i'm an irish catholic. i'm wondering, what was the argument for not wanting catholic immigrants? and what were the arguments, the mckinley supporters? there must've been a tremendous number of people who saw things his way? >> well, i'm not sure whether terrorism has to do with it, because of course there was no -- the argument is simply this. that people like millard fillmore believed that america was a nation for people of english, scottish and welsh ancestry who were protestants. and catholics were banned because they follow the antichrist in rome, because they
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followed a religion that suppressed democracy, suppress freedom but it's fascinating, of course to think about the way they structured these arguments. they would always take catholicism is in opposition to democracy so what are going to do? we will oppressed catholics because we're good to democrats. you know? think it through a little harder. fillmore appeals to those people in america who, when faced with a crisis, would like to blame what sociologists call the other. that is, people who are different from you. so that when i was giving a talk last week, and i think we probably have to end in the midst of this might be my last answer, so i was giving a talk a couple months ago actually in arizona, and people asked me about the crisis of the economy in arizona because the arizona
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economy is in disastrous shape with houses everywhere that they can't sell and people being foreclosed. what do they blame this crisis on? illegal mexican workers here are coming in and taking jobs from american citizens. so all those people in their $400,000 home are just dying to go out and pick up tomatoes in the field of arizona, and illegal mexican workers are taking the jobs away from them. this, of course, is absurd. this, of course, is nonsensical, but what it is, is rather than look inward and say oh, we have some really incredible structural problems with our economy, or we have problems with a society where for many people are held in bondage, rather than discuss that you find someone else you can blame. you find a scapegoat. and so in the 1840s the convenient scapegoat our irish
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immigrants. they are poor, they are catholic, they are different from us, and they threaten us. i should note by the way that fillmore brings a treaty with switzerland to the senate and urges the senate to pass this treaty because it will give americans equal rights in switzerland and swiss citizens equal rights in america, except the first paragraph of the treaty says, this will only apply to christian americans because half the cantons in switzerland do not allow jews to come into the canton much less do business or on land there. and fillmore sees nothing wrong with this, even though of course by this time there are about a quarter million jews in the united state. not nearly as though blacks laser irish immigrants, but these american citizens are not on fillmore's radar screen because they are not his americans. and that's why i would argue that, in fact, what we have here
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is the first tea party president. and in 1856 the first tea party presidential candidate. thank you. [applause] >> paul finkelman's "millard fillmore" is part of times though, the american presidents series. >> we would like to hear from you. tweet us your feedback, twitter.com/booktv. >> and now i booktv, a book watch party for john merrow, author of "the influence of teachers." he examines the current issues facing american education and presents his thoughts of how the this book party is held at the renaissance hotel in
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washington, d.c., and it runs about 30 minutes. >> i'm actually contained. >> how are you? >> i'm good. i would like to introduce you. these are the student officers. >> how are you? >> they are here in d.c. >> how are you? nice to see you. how are you? that's great. tongue were your from. >> -- tell me if you are from. >> new jersey. >> i am a native of ohio. close to live a. 70 miles from columbus. >> one of my kids went to kenya. i just came back from toledo not

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